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Self-rule deal on course

CAIRO (Reuter, AFP) - PLO and Israeli negotiators resumed what may be their last peace talks before they sign an agreement on Israeli withdrawal and Palestinian self- rule in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho.

The chief PLO negotiator, Nabil Shaath, said that if all went well, the PLO chairman, Yasser Arafat, and the Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, could come to Cairo later in the week to prepare for a signing ceremony next week.

In Jerusalem, Israeli ministers also said an accord on the long-delayed peace deal could be signed next week, but weighty problems remained.

Israel's Economics Minister, Shimon Shitrit, said that before final approval of the deal, the Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, who flew to Russia yesterday for a four-day visit, and Mr Arafat would have to agree on the size of the Jericho enclave, and how Palestinian policemen would deploy on the bridge that divides the West Bank from Jordan.

Mr Shitrit said Israel and the PLO have agreed that 1,000 Palestinian police will enter the occupied territories 24 hours after the accord is signed.

On the eve of his visit to Russia, Mr Rabin said he would seek more active Russian involvement in the peace process. Mr Shaath said: 'If the Israelis come in good faith with the intention to finish, then we are ready to finish.'